Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Diary of an Exercise Addict

image: peachfriedman
I read the book Diary of an Exercise Addict this weekend. I had first read about Peach Friedman in a People magazine article on exercise addiction published a few years ago. I was interested in hearing how her recovery went and found out she was publishing this book.

Overall, I think this is a pretty inspiring book. She considers herself recovered but knows to keep a cautious eye as well. Currently, she is a personal trainer and works with the Summit Eating Disorders program in California.

This memoir is written like a diary but not exactly either. It is not as raw or triggering as some other memoirs on eating disorders have been (not that that should be the point but for some it makes it easier for them to relate), but Peach delves into the physical and emotional aspects of her eating disorder. I really like how she gives opposing views of being eating disordered--being so numbed out to the world and recognizing only small, minute details that most people would not even think about, her movement towards recovery--that it was a lot tougher than she expected but was willing to trust her treatment team, and finally recovery as a beautiful, young woman who learned to accept her body and take care of it.

Peach was lucky in that her eating disorder didn't have the duration as other sufferers, and she was able to receive help with the intervention of her supportive parents, therapist, and dietitian. This is not to take away from the years of pain or suffering from her eating disorder, but moreso a reminder how quickly one can descent into the grips of an eating disorder. She's also a role model in showing that you can recover on an outpatient basis which I really did find remarkable given her malnourished condition. She talks about the book in this interview with a local station and more information about her can be found on her website here.

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Reading this book was interesting for me, especially given the fact that I was familiar with the area she lived and knew of one of the girls she spoke about in the book (someone I knew in elementary school). I did not grow up there but frequented the area while training in gymnastics, so I could relate with what she had to say about the culture and perceptions there. It makes me wonder if I had lived there (at one point, my parents offered to send me to a private school, so I could be closer to my gymnastics center) what the outcome of me would have been.

But more than that, it reminded me of the missing points of intervention that I could have had or maybe should have had, wandering if things would have been different. One friend of mine used to tell me I was always just a step away from inpatient, but ironically no one else really saw it that way--kind of like the not good enough anorexic or bulimic. It's probably one reason why I have such validation issues even to this day.

I know looking into the past and thinking about this stuff isn't helpful--that there are so many people who don't receive any treatment at all, can't get the treatment they really need due to insurance, or they die waiting. I know I should be thankful for even what I've received. And I am. Truly. I know in the end, it is up to me to decide what to do with the tools, knowledge, etc. that the many years of therapy have given me.

I don't know, I'm just feeling a bit mundane, retrospective, and ambivalent. Today was tough and sometimes even though I make a certain amount of progress facing fears, I still feel like I'm ever so slowly slipping too.

7 comments:

Kyla said...

this sounds like a great book! I've never heard of it. Thanks for the review, and the comment about it being non-triggering, as I won't read any book reviewed as triggering. Also, I want to comment to what you said about never going IP. I know that it is a "rite of passage" in some ways in the ED world, "proof" that you were sick enough - but hon, sick AT ALL is sick enough. It's hell, and it's dangerous, and if you were a step away from IP, you probably needed it. I also want to point out that it's the ED talking about insecurities with not being "bad enough" to go IP. Even in the IP world, there are feelings of inadequacy about not being "sick enough" - Lord knows I felt that way. Take care, chin up. Kyla

Tiptoe said...

Kyla, thank you for what you said. Sometimes I need to be reminded of these things. In the end, we all suffer.

Kyla said...

yes, in the end we all suffer - exactly right.

Ai Lu said...

I am with Kyla here: you don't need to have gone inpatient to have suffered, just as someone doesn't have to meet psychiatric criteria for anorexia or bulimia to suffer from an eating disorder.

It's funny, I never went inpatient -- I tried to get into a program once, but there was a two-month wait and I couldn't do it -- and now I'm glad that I didn't. It makes me feel healthier, which is silly: I might have been just as poorly off as those women who ended up in the hospital, psychologically speaking, and yet circumstances dictated that I fight the battle with a therapist and not a whole treatment team. In the end, going into the mental health profession myself, I am glad to have not had a history of psychiatric hospitalization, as it could really be detrimental to my career if my employers ever found out (as they can, if you apply for health insurance). So, that's the other side of the coin.

And great book review!

Love,
Ai Lu

Tiptoe said...

Ai Lu, that is a great point about future health insurance which I had forgotten. I have an individual policy and have always hated that the depression and eating disorder diagnoses always follow me.

Yes, you and Kyla are right that there are no preconditions to suffering.

I'm truly glad you are in the place where you are now which was achieved through the help of your therapist and hard work.

Exercise Addiction said...

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